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Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: Examining the Role of Group Cohesion in a Group Intervention

Levitan, Jocelyn R.
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology
Degree Supervisor:
Maryam Kia-Keating
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Psychology, Counseling, Psychology, Developmental, and Psychology, Clinical
Domestic violence
Group cohesion
Trauma treatment
Group therapy
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

Group treatment has long been considered a particularly beneficial modality for children who have experienced interpersonal trauma due to the many benefits it affords (Silvosky, 2005) and is one of the most common forms of treatment for children exposed to domestic violence (Graham-Bermann & Hughes, 2003). Although the intervention studies examining group therapy outcomes for children exposed to domestic violence show promising results (Rizo, Macy, Ermentrout, & Johns, 2011), research on therapeutic factors have failed to be considered for investigation in the previous research conducted for this population (Graham-Bermann, Lynch, Banyard, DeVoe, & Halabu, 2007). Although there is a dearth of research on the mechanisms of change involved in children's groups, some researchers have found group cohesion to be among the most helpful features (Shechtman & Mor, 2010) and predictive of child outcomes (i.e., social competence, anxiety).

By utilizing a mixed-methods design, the current exploratory pilot study sought to investigate the relationship between group cohesion and group therapy outcomes and the ways in which group cohesion is manifested in group treatment for Latino children exposed to domestic violence. Participants included 36, primarily Latino children (95%), ages 8-13, who participated in a community-based group therapy program for families exposed to domestic violence. In addition to collecting pre- and postgroup questionnaires related to their mental health, coping, and group engagement, 14 children also participated in semistructured interviews. Ethnographic observations of the groups were also utilized. The results suggested that children's level perceived group cohesion is significantly related to decreases in total difficulties, but was not significantly related to coping behaviors following the group intervention.

The mixed-methods findings suggest that group cohesion may be both related to and manifested by children sharing in group. Cultural considerations, clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (172 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Jocelyn Levitan
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